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The Band Perry Breaks New Ground with “Pioneer”

Universal Republic Nashville (2013)

Formula for success: gather your young siblings, form a country band, write some songs with an edgy spin on themes of love and death, put out a multi-platinum selling album—and then push it even further. This pretty much sums up the story of The Band Perry, culminating in their dynamite sophomore release Pioneer.

The proverbial bar was raised to a remarkably high level with the album’s lead single “Better Dig Two”, which hit number one and has already gone Platinum on its own. Thankfully, the rest of the album completely meets the expectations set by that first single. Time will tell if the album produces any other singles that match the success of “Better Dig Two”, but as an album experience Pioneer is everything I’d hoped it would be.

I’ve heralded The Band Perry several times on this column over the past year because of their uncanny ability to put a fresh coat of paint on country music without breaking genre. That trend continues on this album; it literally breathes with freshness. The Perry siblings borrow occasionally (and occasionally generously) from pop, arena rock and even 70s rock, but somehow manage to keep rooted in a rootsy country vibe. On the high-energy “Done.”, the song cops an opening from The Ting Tings’ “Shut Up and Let Me Go” before launching into a sassy, Sugarland-esque jazz/rock vibe, filled out with one of the hottest guitar solos you’ll hear in a country record—the guitar is effected to sound almost like a harmonica, if that gives you any indication. Elsewhere, “Forever Mine Nevermind” borrows equally from Queen and Taylor Swift—the former with the theatrical choir, the latter with the snarky anti-ex-boyfriend attitude and group chants of “forever” during the chorus. Blend these with the emotional folk of the title track and heartfelt ballads like “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” and “Back To Me Without You”—all brought together under the skillful production of Dann Huff (Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban)—and you have an exceptionally diverse, and remarkably satisfying listening experience. And it also bears mentioning that not only has the songwriting expertise of The Band Perry greatly improved, but Kimberly Perry has simply never sounded better.

Simply put, I can’t imagine The Band Perry putting out a better sophomore album than this, building on the foundation laid by the first album and taking things to the next level. It’s a bit early in the year to call this, but I can easily see Pioneer being my favorite country record of 2013.

 

5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Music blogger Rob Burkhardt has been a fan of country music since he was a child, cutting his teeth on the sounds of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Reba McIntyre and George Jones. In the words of the now-legendary Barbara Mandrell song, he was "country when country wasn't cool." Nowadays, Rob is both intrigued and excited about the mainstream crossover appeal of modern country, as seen in the success of artists like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Even so, Rob's personal tastes in country music remain "old school," tied to the great legends of country. When he's not blogging about country music, Rob Burkhardt holds a day job as a middle school teacher, and is an avid sports fan. He lives with his wife and two teenage girls in southern Ohio.

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